Audio Interview

SARS-CoV-2: What we need to know and possible future therapies

Published on April 5, 2020   13 min

Other Talks in the Playlist: Interviews on Covid-19

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Interviewer: Professor Perlman, thank you very much for recording this interview today on the current knowledge of the biology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. How does this strain compare to the past SARS strain in terms of the biology and genetics? Prof. Perlman: I think that in terms of the biology and genetics it is very similar. We knew early on in this epidemic that the structure of this virus was almost the same as that of the SARS coronavirus or the MERS coronavirus, or for that matter the coronaviruses that we've studied for years that infect mice, so we know they all have the same organization of genes. There are certainly subtle differences because they enter cells by different receptors, they have different numbers of what we call 'accessory proteins' which we think evade the immune response, these are completely unrelated though we think they have very similar functions. But these are relatively small details compared to the overall structure, which is very similar between all these different viruses. Interviewer: How can the knowledge that we do have help in the containment of COVID-19? Prof. Perlman: Well, because we've learned so much about coronaviruses over the years, we know which proteins might be prone to the effects of developing therapies. Remember, viruses always grow inside our cells so it's very hard to develop therapies, because they use some of the same mechanisms that we need just to grow and live, so we can't randomly inhibit the functions of a virus. But because we have so much knowledge of these viruses we're able to identify those proteins which are not found in the normal cell, and which therefore are able to be inhibited by adding outside inhibitors.

SARS-CoV-2: What we need to know and possible future therapies

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